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The Story of Nelson Mandelas Imprisonment

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Providence College has been granted $250,000 to construct a statue on campus that commemorates heroism. The statue will help as a reminder to educate students and future generations qualities like independence, courage integrity, and resourcefulness. This is why Nelson Mandela should be memorialized, he embodies perfectly all of the virtues that the statue needs to have. Nelson Mandela signifies endurance, social prominence, and heroism. A hero exemplifies someone who has the bravery to make a change when injustice is lurking to wreck basic human rights or even basic social norms. Also, a hero does not hesitate to sacrifice him/herself for something or someone that is greater and can help to make a change for the better on future lives. Mandela sacrificed twenty-seven years of his life by having the courage to stand up against the unjust apartheid system in South Africa’s government and society. He is the prime icon that advocates for every single person that is considered to be minority in today’s society. His life journey and the challenges he faced, all went for the cause of eliminating segregation and the embracement of union of a society. Nelson Mandela is the best choice to be memorialized for future generations of Providence College because he performs as a reminder of inspiration due to his work on justice and equality; encouraging students to tell themselves that they are capable of making a change on this world.

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Nelson Mandela has the ability to fill, urge, animate, make someone feel something because of his tremendous work on demolishing such an oppressing system and creating a respectful and equal environment. But first, to well capture how he achieved his political power, it is crucial to understand his childhood and background. Rolihlahla Mandela, born in a clan, in Mvezo which is in the Eastern Cape, had been exposed to the stories of their ancestors during war and has always been uncomfortable with the fact of how much his people had struggled for freedom. Nelson Mandela Foundation Nelson Mandela Foundation. As a youth he experienced how the people around him still suffer from the loss of livestock, mass panic, division, dispossessions, and loss of independence that resulted from the wars. When Mandela was two years old, a white local judge incriminated Gadla Henry (Nelson’s father) with disobeying orders. Since that moment, it was marked that white authority became an emergence into the village structure. Even though, Mandela was not in contact with the outside “white” world, it was noticeable for him that they had to way of superiority. Nelson’s father was released but had lost all of his income and status and was forced to relocate. Another example that shaped Mandela is when attending to his primary school, he was indoctrinated by his teachers that his authentic self was not good enough. Little things like a teacher changing his name from Rolihlahla to Nelson because it was a “Christian” name can confuse a child and can make them feel diminished and inferior. As simple as a name can be, a name brings meaning to a person, power, connection to their identity and individuality. Nelson did well at school and continued his education for law in Fort Hare University, an organization that proposed higher education to black South Africans. In Fort Hare University, Mandela’s rebellious self-came to the light when he was expelled from the school for leading a student protest against the university authorities. Then he came back to his home and discovered that the chief was arranging him and his cousin to get married. Mandela then committed a criminal offence of stealing a cow and fled to Johannesburg. He lived poorly, however achieved reconciliation of the chief and was granted finishing his degree and joining a law firm. One of his firm associates animated him to further his legal studies, being qualified as an “attorney” he created his own law firm.

Consequently, this was the start of his political development and revolutionary journey, and Mandela became politically active. His political participation became predominant when he joined the African National Congress. In 1948, the National Party won the elections and built the system of apartheid, which was the reinforcement of racial segregation in South Africa. After this, Nelson led numerous protests against the system with a campaign he built called “Defiance Campaign” in 1952. In 1956, Mandela was convicted of committing treason for conspiring to overthrow the state. In between his trial, Evelyn, his wife, divorced him and accused him of infidelity and committing domestic violence. His trial was the longest in South Africa’s history having a duration of 1956-1962. In 1960, the African National Congress was dismantled, and police officers killed sixty-nine activists. Mandela’s response to this massacre was initiating the armed branch called “Umkhonto we Sizwe” and helped establish a bombing campaign where explosives were going to be located underneath electricity pylons and at empty offices of the government. When this happened, Mandela went hiding in 1961 but shortly returned in 1962 and  Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for the fact of having left the country in illegal terms. They also brought Mandela from prison to have another trial and sabotage him to convict him with more years by acts of violence and treason. Mandela addressed the trial and said “I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realized. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” With this statement it is more than clear how devoted he is to make a change and how he does not fear death because he is at ease and peace with the work he has done in his life.

Mandela then was taken to Robben Island in 1963, he was sentenced for life imprisonment with hard labor. The conditions were really horrible, he lived in a really small cell, alone. At first, he would spend his days on the courtyard breaking rocks, in this time there was no such things as having a chance to study, also they had a lack of books, and visitations were allowed once a year. Mandela suffered a lot of loss and sorrow during this time and was allowed more books and opportunity to study. He became well-known at prison when he started to refuse to do things to officials if they would not treat him respectfully. In 1970s he started to write his autobiography and began receiving foreign visitors and his cause and philosophy started gaining more exposure to the world. After people started gaining more knowledge about him, he was transfer to a prison on the mainland, outside Cape Town. In 1986, some wings of the apartheid regime started having secretive meetings and conversations with Mandela. They offered some options to make him a free man like having his release but denouncing the armed struggle of the African National Congress, yet Mandela refused by saying either release me unconditionally or not at all. Because Mandela was getting to be really known throughout the world, outside pressure began to attack the apartheid system. The movement of Anti- Apartheid had been alive since 1960’s with the advocacy of Nelson Mandela. This is why “Free Nelson Mandela” became so popular that a song had been created too. At this time, not even foreign pressure was trying to demolish this system, but also violent protests were striking in townships in consequence of an ANC-led campaign by weakening the regime strength and creating many boycotts. In addition to the end of the Cold War the apartheid regime started to deteriorate. Since it wasn’t a number one goal to endorse Marxism, so the government eased on the African National Congress by being a communist threat. In 1989, FW de Klerk became the president and fast results were happening to end the apartheid system. In 1990, Mandela was free from Victor Verster Prison, this day is also known for his iconic speech of forgiveness and peace to 50,000 people. He stated that the African National Congress will still have their armed side just in case if apartheid raised to the power again. However, he shifts the conversation by what he wants South Africa to developed, a country where there is no supremacy of a race, a country that lives in peace, unity and reconciliation.

After this speech, Mandela continued to be open and talk to the white regime, this led for the founding of the new constitution called “Democratic South Africa”. However, a third party from the South African security forces became violent from the changes that were occurring on the government and a serious of massacres in 1992 took place killing 45 people. Mandela then blamed entirely the security forces and the president for not being able to control these killings. The relationship between Mandela and the president became tense and was near to collapse. In 1993, the leader of the African National Congress was murdered, and this raised a lot on anger and violence. However, Mandela chose to go on national television to calm the situation and make peace. Then in 1994, an agreement was made to reach a multi-racial election, making Mandela the first South African president in 1994. He declared “Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another”. In his speeches, he always reinforced the spirit of reconciliation and unity, he only cared to make everyone a equal as possible this explaining why he built measures that aimed on helping the white minority too. Mandela’s touch of charisma went to the extent to reaching out to the wife (now widow) of the founder of apartheid and formed a strong friendship. After this and many other gestures that Mandela did, he also travelled the world to make South African known and also to have meetings with foreign countries on how to make South Africa’s economy better. In 1999, he retired, but kept on being an activist in South African and coming up with new ideas and policies to better the government, and sociopolitical institutions of South Africa. He created three charity foundations and advocated for the huge epidemic of AIDS and HIV. Unfortunately, Mandela was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001, although he recovered, he was very ill, but he endured until a little more from his last major public appearance which was the African World Cup in 2010 and died because of a respiratory tract infection in 2012 being 95 years old.

Nelson Mandela was not only a hero in his country, he is a representation of a hero worldwide because of his work towards freedom and justice. Nelson Mandela had a very long life filled with experiences that made him see and recognize what was rightful or not. He is an advocate for justice and equality, and moreover an icon that mobilizes and inspires people worldwide. He is a true hero, that sacrificed his family, life, marriage just to stand by the rights of all South Africa. He did not care to lose his power, status or wealth to make a change for the better. Mandela serves as a voice for many students here at Providence College. Twenty- three percent of this campus composes of minority groups, that have encountered some way of segregation.

 However, Mandela advocates for the complete one hundred percent of the students in this campus, to live in unity and in harmony. This why, Nelson Mandela would be perfect to be memorialized in a statue, to remember students that everyone in Providence College is a family that lives in union and peace, and also are inspired every day to make a change.  

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